FA receives £600m Shahid Khan bid for Wembley Stadium
26 April 2018, 13:03
The Football Association (FA) has confirmed receiving a bid for Wembley Stadium, in a deal Sky sources understand to be worth at least £600m.
English football officials were tight-lipped on details publicly, saying only that "the FA has received an offer to buy Wembley Stadium".
But the bidder is the billionaire owner of Fulham Football Club, Shahid Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team.
Sky sources suggest that if talks are successful, a deal would signal the creation of the first NFL franchise outside the US.
It could mean the England football team playing its autumn home games across the country, rather than at the home of English football.
The big winner from any deal, it is also believed, will be grassroots football which would be on track to secure a £500m boost from the proceeds.
A Sport England spokesperson said: "Sport England invested £120m of National Lottery money into the development of Wembley Stadium. We look forward to hearing more detail about how such a deal would work and whether it would benefit grassroots sport."
Reports suggested that the deal would also see the FA keep its Club Wembley debenture and hospitality business, valued at £300m.
There is nothing to suggest that Mr Khan would seek to take Fulham, currently in the Championship, away from Craven Cottage and base the team at Wembley.
He told fans any agreement would not detract from his Fulham interests.
In a statement he said: "The games the Jaguars play at Wembley are essential to the financial stability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, which is one of the smallest markets in the NFL.
"If my ownership interests were to include Wembley Stadium, it would protect the Jaguars' position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city.
"And the stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars' future will be in Jacksonville."
The terms under consideration by the FA board suggest Wembley would remain the organisation's base.
Wembley, which has a 90,000-capacity, was reopened in 2007 after a £757m rebuild.
It is no stranger to hosting NFL games and has been a temporary base for Tottenham Hotspur during the current football season while the Premier League side's new stadium is completed.
The NFL released a statement which read: "We are very happy for Shahid Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"The potential purchase of Wembley Stadium is a further powerful sign of their commitment to the UK and their vision to help us grow the sport.
"Having stadium options in London has always been critical to the NFL and, in tandem with our 10-year partnership with Tottenham Hotspur, this new relationship would allow for even greater flexibility in scheduling future NFL games in London."
Mr Khan bought the Jaguars in 2011 and was among those who pushed for more NFL games to be played in London.
The businessman, who left Pakistan in his teens and made his fortune in the US through a car parts empire, later bought Fulham from Mohamed al Fayed in 2013.
Reaction to news of the bid was swift from top football figures.
Former England striker Gary Lineker tweeted his potential support - if grassroots football was to be the big winner.
(c) Sky News 2018: FA receives £600m Shahid Khan bid for Wembley Stadium